Saturday december 4th
After having many people visiting our new casita, we finally found the time and energy to take the camper out for a spin again and go hiking.
The Sierra d’Espadan is a mountain range that we know well and is quite close to where we live. So this is a beautiful place to start our training again. As I might or might not have said before, we are the proud owners of staff maps, or walking maps. These maps are 1: 30.000 so very detailed and all hiking and bicycle trails are on there. The evening before we left, we picked (using the maps) a starting and finishing point somewhere in d’Espadan. Mind you, we always need to be sure that there is a place where we can park the magnificent beast for the night. This can be challenging in mountainous areas, but we knew this location from last year.
We are parked JUST outside the pueblo, and to get to our path, we had to walk through it. All mountain villages in Spain have a fuente (spring) with drinkable water and we pass one, so we fill our empty bottles with the fresh mountain water. It is the most refreshing water in the world, really.
It wasn’t a very spectacular walk, but to be back in the mountains again, feels absolutely amazing, for both me and Marc. As you can see, there is a yellow hiking trail (PR-CV-63.6) starting on the north-eastern border of the village, passing an old washing fuente, where women used to do the laundry, that was built in 1932. We followed that path and had some lovely views.
It was a path that went up gradually, and was quite friendly, but we noticed we were out of breath pretty quickly (although we are still non-smokers haha). So baby steps. This weekend, we warm the engines up (i.g. our bodies) and take it a hike at the time to get back in shape.
Of course we passed some hundreds year old olive terraces and some ruins, as you do in Spain, but we also found some cork oaks, like these. They strip the outer layer, which is the cork and then, depending on the damage that has been done, it can be harvested again after a whopping 9 to 12 years! It is a fascinating process, if you ask me.
After about and hour and a half going up, and seeing that the last 2 km to the peak where VERY steep uphill, we decided to go back.
In the end we had a lovely walk of about 6 kilometres on Saturday.
Total length: 5,78 km
Total ascent & descent: 198 m
Total duration: 1:49:35
Sunday December 5th
Not much muscle aches after yesterdays hike, luckily, so we opted for a more challenging hike. From our camper we can see an old 12th century castle up on the hill, which looked nice to explore. Checking the map, there is a loop that will take us not only to the castle, but also to the next little pueblo Vall de Almonacid, without needing to walk on the main road.
From the get go, we (ofcourse) walked amongst the olive trees, with blue skies and no one around, except for the birds and small lizards.
The road up was a challenge, but worth it. Up at the hill, the views were breathtaking. We could even see the magnificent beast patiently waiting for us.
The castle was built at the beginning of the 12th century, being a fortified monastery inhabited by Muslim warrior monks. Nowadays we would give that another name, I think. After the Christians took over, it lost it’s military function with time, and in the 16th century it was being abandoned completely. Which, in my honest opinion, is completely logical, it is a steep climb going up and it’s cold…. Windy also.
We descended towards the other village and had a nice stroll down on a pathway, and again surrounded by olive and fig trees. As we entered Vall de Almonacid, we passed a restaurant which was COMPLETELY packed. Mind you, this is a village with a population of 280, so we were surprised that it was buzzing with people. Sunday is paella day, so maybe that’s what they came here to do… I really don’t know, the Spanish are still a mystery to me, with their siësta’s and incomprehensible bank holidays they have every other week, so it feels.
Once we passed Vall de Almonacid, it was time for a break. Some sandwiches and self picked mandarins. Man, those are sweet. Mandarins (mandarinas) and oranges (naranjas) are grown here on a huge scale. The Valencia area was once the sole supplier of oranges in the whole of Europe. They are everywhere and no one bats an eye if you pick some. So now, we have the sweetest and freshest fruit available. That is, until they come and harvest them, which won’t be long now.
We travel on and encounter some more wonderful views with bare almond trees at the foreground. These trees are the ones to blossom first (Februari) and also loose their leaves first, which, right now, gives the scenery a bit of an eerie edge.
The final kilometer or 2 we have to speedwalk our way home. There are dark grey threatening clouds roling in, and we are pretty sure rain is upon us. As soon as we walk into the pueblo we feel the raindrops, so we hurry up. We fill our empty water bottles at the fuente again and rush back to the camper. Once we’re inside, it starts pouring. Luckily we were just in time. What a lovely, diverse hike through this area.
See below for some more pictures from our walks.
Total length: 7,61 km
Total ascent & descent: 297 m
Total duration: 3:08:12